How Do You Treat Vaginitis?

Why Treatments Vary From Case to Case

Proper vaginitis treatment always depends upon proper diagnosis, which can be tricky because there are several different forms of vaginitis that are divided into two broad categories: infectious and noninfectious.

In order to help your doctor make the proper diagnosis, pay close attention to your symptoms noting which symptoms you are experiencing and when they occur. Also be sure to note the color, consistency, amount, and possible odor of any abnormal discharge.

Because there are different types of infectious vaginitis - like yeast infections or bacterial vaginitis - that have unique causes, treatment must be specific to the type of vaginitis.

Yeast Infection Prescription Treatments

Many women are not aware that the common yeast infection is actually a type of vaginitis caused by Candida yeast. If you have been diagnosed with a yeast infection, you will likely be prescribed a vaginal cream or suppositories to treat it. Unfortunately, many women experience recurring yeast infections. If the infection clears up only to have precisely the same symptoms reoccur, your doctor may suggest an over-the-counter vaginal cream or suppository that can completely treat the infection.

Yeast Infection Over-the-Counter Treatments

The important thing to note about these treatments is that they only cure the most common types of Candida associated with vaginal yeast infections. They will not cure other yeast infections or any other type of vaginitis. 

When obtaining these over-the-counter medicines, be sure to read all of the instructions completely before using the product. Be sure to use all of the medicine and don't stop just because your symptoms have gone away.

Be sure to see your doctor if:

  • All of the symptoms do not go away completely after treatment
  • The symptoms return immediately or shortly after you finish treatment
  • You have any other serious medical problems such as diabetes
  • You might be pregnant

Bacterial Vaginitis Prescription Treatments

Other forms of infectious vaginitis are caused by organisms like bacteria that need to be treated with oral medication and/or a vaginal cream prescribed by your doctor. These types of vaginitis are known as bacterial vaginosis. For this type of vaginitis, your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic like metronidazole tablets or a topical antibiotic like metronidazole gel.

Unlike yeast infections, over-the-counter products are not typically not be effective for bacterial vaginitis. As with all medicine, but antibiotics in particular, it is important to follow your doctor's instructions as well as the instructions that come with the medication.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Vaginitis Treatment

  • Is it okay to douche while on this vaginal cream?
  • Should you abstain from sexual intercourse during treatment?
  • Should your sexual partner(s) be treated at the same time?
  • Will the medication for this vaginitis agree with your other medication(s)?
  • Should you continue the vaginal cream or suppositories during your period?
  • Do you need to be reexamined and if so, when?

Noninfectious Vaginitis Treatments

Noninfectious vaginitis is typically treated by addressing the probable cause of the irritation, like a new soap or personal product. For instance, if you have recently changed your soap or laundry detergent or have added a fabric softener, you might consider discontinuing the use of the new product to see if your symptoms persist. The same approach would apply to a new vaginal spray, douche, sanitary napkin, or tampon. If the vaginitis is due to hormonal changes, estrogen may be prescribed to help reduce symptoms.

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